But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
Over the weekend Patrina and I went out to dinner with another couple – some of our old friends. On Saturday I had lunch with my oldest son as we took a break from a construction project at his place. “Breaking bread” or sharing a meal is central to life – especially in the life of followers of Christ and examples are found throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
Food brings people together, strengthens relationships, and reinforces our sense of belonging. That may be the most important reason Paul instructs us to not even share a meal with someone who claims to believe and follow Christ and lives in a way that dishonors God.
While Paul is specifically confronting sexual immorality in the church, his words also address other destructive behaviors including the greedy and dishonest pursuit of wealth, substance abuse, and a reviler or verbally abusive person.
Association with a person who claims to be (a) a follower of Christ and still is determined to (b) dishonor God with his life is to be avoided. Sharing a meal with them serves to endorse their behavior.
These are tough words for most of us, but Paul’s concern should be ours – for the good of all followers of Christ and specifically for the benefit of the person who disregards his relationship with Christ.